Morning sunlight warms the old brick warehouse as nearby factories rattle. At 8:45 a.m. on the first Friday of October, nearly 100 people line up outside this five-story building at the foot of Kansas City's 12th Street Bridge.
Many in the crowd presumably saw the resale shop's Facebook page, which provided a preview of the merchandise. In the former Columbia Burlap & Bag Co. Building, old items with new energy await: stately chairs reupholstered with whimsical wiener-dog designs, a door turned into a bright-red chalkboard, decades-old glass Crisco jars filled with colorful Christmas ornaments.
Ropes and hand-scrawled signs in parking lots warn the bargain hunters: You will be towed.
The vintage-seeking customers mix with those reporting for industrial jobs as well as other players in the West Bottoms' revitalization: artists, those running haunted houses, employees at up-and-coming restaurants and retail businesses. Fliers on light poles and wooden yard signs tout other resale shops that have sprouted nearby, ready to capitalize on the traffic. The people behind one of them promote themselves this morning by handing out yellow sticky notes penned with black ink. A food truck and a coffee shop on the block have been busy for at least an hour.
With eight minutes to go before the store opens, Trish Moore, the woman responsible for this repurposing revolution, peeks out the green front door at 1412 West 12th Street. She thanks those at the front of the line and tells them her news: In February, she plans to move Good Ju Ju across the street to the old John Deere warehouse. With more vendor space and 200 parking spots, the new location should better meet customer demand.
She closes the door and rounds up about 20 vendors. They form a circle inside, toward the front of the brick-and-concrete retail space, and join hands.
Two minutes to go. Close to 175 people are in line.
"Oh, my gosh, you guys," Moore says, her voice cracking with emotion. "I'm not going to cry."
The day marks the store's fourth anniversary. Memories flood Moore's mind — the sparse customer base in the beginning, the days when the store doubled as her home, the stress and success that have whittled her down five dress sizes.
"If anybody had told me the truth four years ago," she begins — her voice trails off as she squeezes the hands of the vendors beside her. "Thank you, Father, Jesus, Big Guy, Dude. Know how grateful we are."
"Music!" Moore says. She moves to start the morning's soundtrack, cuing up "Truckin'" by the Grateful Dead.
This is no antique mall. You won't see an estate-sale-ready old dark-wood buffet in Good Ju Ju. Instead: a buffet that very well could have been rescued from an estate sale now sports a smart coat of blue paint and intentionally weathered edges. All of it is the result of artists getting their hands on antiques, Dumpster castoffs and other finds, working on them and then selling their pieces at affordable prices. The vendors in this anti-flea-market effort work in open areas — no booths — and the spaces flow together with a hip interior designer's touch.
"We have no agenda except cool, pretty things," Moore says. "And we want to keep good stuff out of the landfill."
For at least one loyal woman, all the cool, pretty home décor provokes something more intense than mere warm fuzzies. "It's like a big visual orgasm in here," she tells more than one vendor.
Reaching one ecstatic customer at a time, Moore's Good Ju Ju has transformed the city's stockyards into its antique yards.
Are you out of your damn mind?"
Moore heard that question multiple times when she decided to open a business in the West Bottoms in 2007. The Johnson County native herself was skeptical of the area at first.
"I thought there was nothing but hobos down here with cans of beans," she says.